What happened to English strikers?


Wayne Rooney’s absence from the England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, may not have meant a lot a few years ago, but now seems to show the lack of strikers coming through in the English game.

The other strikers in the squad (barring the injured Andy Carroll), Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck, and Daniel Sturridge, have certain qualities, but all 3 are not guaranteed starters at their club sides. While Welbeck has rightly signed a new contract at Manchester United, Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge both stuck with their respective clubs – are they afraid of not doing it at a smaller club? Tottenham’s supposed 4-2-3-1 system has never suited Defoe, who is at his best feeding off another striker (*cough* Peter Crouch). Daniel Sturridge impressed as a lone front man at the Olympics with Team GB, but was also guilty of overplaying things at times rather than just holding the ball up. With Romelu Lukaku’s loan, Sturridge is the only recognised back up to Fernando Torres this season, but it doesn’t seem that Di Matteo trusts him as an out and out striker.

Martyn Waghorn, Marvin Sordell, Connor Wickham, Nathan Delfouneso, fancy any of them for England in a few years? Connor Wickham is the only one of these four strikers in the Premiership at the moment (Delfouneso has gone on loan), and even he is nowhere near proving himself at this level.

There is an argument that the lack of quality in our striking options may just be a blessing in disguise:

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley, Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Jonjo Shelvey, Thomas Ince, all are young midfielders coming through the ranks at the moment, and along with established quality such as Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker, and Ashley Young, a modern 4-2-3-1/4-5-1 formation seems to be in order, with a ‘tiki taka’(most overused footballing phrase this decade?) style of football, hopefully combined with English pace and physicality.

Gone are the days where established strikers like Matt Le Tissier and Ian Wright could hardly get in the England squad, gone are the days where we could rely on two world class strkers to combine and score goals. The change of philosophy in English football, including at grass roots level, mean that only 1 half-decent striker is needed, to hold the ball up and compliment play. One thing is for sure, Danny Welbeck was born at the right time.

Matthew Morlidge @MattMorlidge

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